Tennis News Wire -
Juan Ignacio Chela, the Argentine whose professional career was regularly tinged with controversy, has announced his retirement from the ATP World Tour at the age of 33.
The Buenos Aires born right-hander, nicknamed "El Flaco" (The Skinny One), has been absent from competitive play since Wimbledon and has subsequently seen his world-ranking plummet. After beginning 2012 inside the world’s top 30, he has not registered a victory of any kind since beating Mexico’s Cesar Ramirez in Acapulco at the end of February and currently finds himself in 176th position.
Chela, who won $6.5 million in prize money, used Twitter to make his announcement and before thanking long time clothing and racket suppliers, Topper and Babolat, he said: “After many years it was time to move to another stage in my life, I retire from professional tennis.”
The highpoints of Chela’s career all came on clay. He won six ATP singles titles, starting in 2000 at Mexico City, thru Amersfoort two years later, Estoril (2004), Acapulco (2007), Houston and Bucharest, both in 2010. His world-ranking peaked at 15th position in August 2004. He also captured three doubles titles, two with fellow Argentine Gaston Gaudio and was a Wimbledon semi-finalist alongside Eduardo Schwank two years ago.
Chela enjoyed a 12 years long career in Davis Cup, making his debut in the 2000 tie against Canada and signing off in this year’s World Group opener against Germany. He registered a 10-5 winning record at singles and won two of his three doubles rubbers.
But Chela was suspended for three months ordered to forfeit all ranking points accumulated over the previous eight months after being found guilty of the use of illegal substances in December 2000 following a positive test for the use of methyl testosterone, a prohibited steroid under the anti-doping rules.
A tennis anti-doping tribunal concluded that Chela, who represented Argentina at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, did not knowingly take the steroid and he admitted: "For me, this has been a tremendous tragedy, as over the past eight months I already have been through some very rough times. It has been devastating to my career.”
Mark Miles, chief executive of the ATP at the time, maintained it was a tough but fair decision and showed anti-doping program in place was effective in both identifying violators and punishing them appropriately. Chela disagreed and added: "All my hard work has been virtually wiped away by the forfeiture of points, and I now must sit out three months before returning to play the lower-level pro events that I believed were behind me.”
There was more controversy for Chela at the Australian Open in 2005 when he was involved in an ongoing altercation with Lleyton Hewitt during a third round encounter and was fined $Aus2,600 for spitting at the Australian.
Hewitt's then coach Roger Rasheed was involved in a verbal altercation with Chela's trainer Fernando Aguirre in the locker rooms after the match.